I’ve had a small day bag for a good few years now that accompanies me on most hikes. I bought it in Lidl of all places for not much money. I usually only need a small amount of stuff and it’s comfortable, reasonably well spec’d and simply does the job. It’s pretty worn now though and for the last few months I’ve been trying to find a replacement.
So far I’ve ordered three different bags that I’ve returned for various reasons. Mostly the fit and/or quality wasn’t what I expected. Today though I think the search is finally over!
A fellow Irishman has a YouTube channel called “Rambling On”. The video below is his review of a Decathlon 40L bag that looks fantastic. However, I was looking for 20/25L max. In the last couple of weeks I spotted a 20L version on the Decathlon website, delivered today and it’s pretty much perfect 👌
Just over a month since Xmas and Santa came again yesterday.
Funkier Pontebba Winter Jacket
Ordered based on a recommendation from a fellow blogger. Reduced from $100 to $19 and $28 for delivery which I felt was still good value. Predicted delivery from US 21-45 days, arrived on 22nd day. Great first impressions and looking forward to testing it over the next couple of weeks.
I’ve looked at similar gloves over the last couple of years and at £9.99 these seemed to be great value. They’re no longer on the website so may have been a clearance price. I hopefully won’t need to wear them too often🤞
Unsurprisingly my social media ads are mostly filled with cycling related products and websites. Over the last few months PlanetX has been showing up a lot and due to the nature of ads, even more regularly once I clicked on one of them!
Having perused a number of categories and products for a while I finally made a jump last week and ordered a few items.
I’ve become a baselayer convert over the last year or so but needed a slightly heavier option for colder winter days. PlanetX do a sleeveless, short and long sleeve version. I don’t like my arms too warm so I opted for the short sleeve.
I wore it on Wednesday for the first time and was very impressed. It’s a very close fit but not tight or restrictive. I didn’t feel clammy at all so felt that it wicked away sweat pretty effectively. I definitely think I’ll buy another to have a spare as I think it will be getting good use over the winter.
I have lots of pairs of gloves due to a constant search for the perfect pair. The 365 race gloves caught my eye as they’re described as:
Light, warm and snug fitting, with a nice tacky palm grip to boot
I don’t like bulky gloves so was interested in something that was both light and warm.
I also tried these for the first time on Wednesday. It was very cold so I layered them over a pair of Sealskinz merino liner gloves as I really didn’t want to have cold hands. This turned out to be a perfect combination. I had no issues with the cold and when I stopped for lunch at the 50K mark my hands were dry with no dampness in the gloves. The layering also gives the option to lose a layer of it gets too warm.
The only issue I had was when the rain turned heavy and prolonged. Eventually the rain soaked through both layers and I started to feel a bit of a chill. At this stage it would have been a good idea to have had my waterproof Sealskinz gloves. In fairness to the PlanetX gloves they’re not marketed as water resistant. As a bonus they look good with my Perfetto jacket.
I really dislike carrying stuff in my pockets so flying in the face of Rule #29 and 31 I’m a fan of saddle bags. My current dhb wedge bag is getting a bit worn after a couple of years of use. They’re discontinued now so I’ve been looking for an alternative.
Podsacs seem to make good bikepacking bags so I decided to test them out starting with a saddle bag.
I haven’t got organised yet to get this onto my bike but I’m impressed by the quality so far. It has a pretty heavy duty feel with good straps and a dry bag style closure. It’s also bigger than I expected. I hope to test it on the bike this week.
My bike came with basic plastic bar end plugs that I dislike. One of them also comes out far too easily so I want to replace them with metal screw-in ones. It may look like I buy everything black but I do like a little splash of colour and picked red ones to match my helmet and bike trims.
I’ve unsuccessfully tried to fit them once already but I’m not sure if they don’t fit or if I’m doing something wrong. Another go during the week but I might be sending them back.
I’ve been a Wiggle fan for many years now but PlanetX are showing some competition so far. My only issue is that I hate paying a delivery charge and there’s no free delivery option. Returns also have to be sent via standard postage with no free returns option. The value of the items I’ve purchased outweighs this considerably but it still irritates me.
The links above are standard links and I have no affiliation with PlanetX and don’t receive anything for them so click away if you want to see more details on the website.
If there’s one brand synonymous with Audax and long distance endurance cycling then it’s Brooks England. They manufacture traditional bags and saddles with the majority of their original designs made from leather.
They’ve also moved into more modern materials.
Ever since I’ve come across Audax and started researching bikes and gear I’ve wanted to get a Brooks saddle. The traditional leather versions don’t react well to prolonged exposure to rain so not suitable for Irish weather. The Cambium range is made from rubber to give the same comfort benefits of the traditional models but more weatherproof.
There are a number of models in the Cambium range. They are pretty much the same design in various different widths for different riding styles. There are also “carved” versions with a central cut out to reduce pressure for anyone prone to numbness. The most popular options seem to be the C15 and slightly wider C17.
I’d pretty much decided that the C15 would be the best option for me but there was a discussion on the Audax Ireland WhatsApp group and one of the guys had an almost unused C17 for sale for €50. As this is a massive saving I jumped at the chance to try out a Brooks without gambling too much money.
My first ride was a simple 40km and it was quickly apparent that this saddle required a very different position compared to the original one that came with the bike.
My main issues were that I was sitting much too far forward on the saddle, putting way too much weight on my hands and over stretching at the bottom of the pedal stroke. This was creating discomfort in my lower back as well as numbness in my hands. Advice from the group and tinkering over the next few rides improved all of this but on my last 75km ride I decided that unfortunately Brooks is not for me. I’m unable to get rid of the hand issues but I’m sure I could if I got my bike fit tweaked professionally but my major issue is that I can’t seem to prevent sliding forward. The saddle has a scoop shape that seems to disagree with my posture on the bike. The only way to prevent this is to tilt it up at the front which then creates numbness in a more sensitive area and something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to contend with.
Shortly after buying the saddle one of the other guys posted the GCN video below that discusses flat v curved saddles for different postures. This confirmed my feeling that the curved saddle won’t suit me.
If the current spell of wet and windy weather ever passes I’ll be switching back to the original saddle that came with the bike (Selle Royal Seta RS). Thankfully I took lots of photos and measurements before removing it. There was a lot of interest when the C17 came up for sale so I should have no problems selling it on for what I paid for it.
The Eurobike award winning CLUG is the world’s smallest bike rack. Working seemlessly with your floor to store your bike, CLUG is used to store your bike either vertically or horizontally.
For the last few months I’ve been using a vinyl coated hook screwed into the wall to hold my front wheel and store my bike vertically like the first image in the graphic above. It wasn’t great though as the wheel had a tendency to tilt to one side making me nervous about it possibly falling over. In fact I haven’t used it at all since I got my new bike.
A while ago I saw an ad on Facebook for a better option. One of the comments slagged it off saying it was a rip off of the Hornit CLUG and it definitely looked like a solution for my situation. I bought it direct from the website for £14.99 but see it for sale now on Wiggle and other sites from £11.99.
CLUG comes in a range of different colours and 5 different sizes depending on the width of your tyres and therefore your bike type. It was a roadie for me and plain black on black.
Installation is pretty simple. The box has an integrated template to line up with your tyre and mark the wall. I was using a block wall so had to drill and use the provided rawl plugs.
The holder comes in two parts. The outside collar screws to the wall and the inner clip, that holds the wheel, clicks in to it.
Shane Millar has a YouTube video if you want to see one being installed.
Overall it is very simple, tidy and most importantly, very effective 👍
Value: 10/10 especially if bought at £11.99! It’s well made, well packaged and holds your expensive bike safely and securely.
Durability: 9/10 but only because I’ve only just started using it. Materials seem well made and robust. No cracking during installation and hard to see how it could break or wear out.
Effectiveness: 10/10 it simply does what it’s designed to do, holding the bike safely and securely.
It’s unlikely that many cyclists will be missing a gillet from their cycling wardrobe. For me it’s an essential. It’s very rare that I leave the house without one of some form, either on me or in my pocket or saddle bag. It’s only on one of those very rare days that we’re guaranteed warm sunshine that I will venture out without one.
My main gillet is my Club one that I wear over either a jersey or my Perfetto from Autumn through to Spring. It’s usually too heavy for Summer use and as it’s not waterproof I also need something for the cooler days and/or when I can expect a heavy shower or two. That’s when the Reflex comes into play.
I bought my first one of these a good few years ago, not long after I started cycling regularly and when I realised that a full waterproof jacket wasn’t going to be practical on the warmer days. I’m one of those people that generate a lot of heat and I’m most comfortable when my arms are bare or just lightly covered.
This gillet is still in decent shape but the lack of visibility of the black colour concerns me on duller days and the reflective strips are getting worn looking having been stuffed and unstuffed countless times over the years. I’ve been very happy with it so when the time came to replace it Sportful was my first choice again.
The design had been updated slightly over the years and now has a much better reflective pattern. There are a number of colour choices with Sportful showing fluro yellow, white and black on their website and Wiggle giving a further two of fluro orange and blue. I went for the yellow this time as I wanted something to increase my visibility.
I’ve worn it quite a number of times now and find it really good at what I want it to do. I mainly use it as an additional windbreaker over my Club gillet and Perfetto on very cold Winter days or just over a jersey on fast descents on cooler days. It also gets good use when I get caught in heavier, more prolonged showers when a soaking is unavoidable and unwanted. It has a very handy integrated stuff sack that allows it to compress into a very neat package for a jersey pocket or saddle bag. I’ve also worn it out running on warmer but wet days and found it good for keeping me dry while preventing overheating.
Overall I’m still happy with the new version but I do miss one feature from the original. It had mesh panels down the sides that made it much more breathable. I’m sure removing them has made it more waterproof but they suited me.
I’ve seen some negative reviews on Wiggle that the zip is flimsy but so far I’ve had no issues. They may have upgraded it as it looks and feels sturdy to me.
Value: 9/10 simply because I’m tight fisted and always feel like I’m paying too much! It was €40 when I bought it which is pretty much the RRP.
Durability: 8/10 a decent zip and robust fabric. Negative reviews on Wiggle have me cautious for the longer term.
Effectiveness: 8/10 a great windbreaker, about as waterproof as a gillet can be but would have preferred to see better breathability via the older version mesh panels or a shoulder vent.
Bikepacking has become my new obsession! I’ve been aware of it for a while and it’s always attracted me as it combines so many elements from activities that interest me. A combination of cycling, hiking, camping and backpacking. It appeals to the boyish attraction of adventure and unknown – possibly a mid life crisis at this stage though!
Over the last couple of years I’ve read various articles about bikepacking but this week I’ve fallen down the YouTube and Google rabbit holes and have spent hours watching videos and reading articles. I’ve become a theoretical expert on the best camping options, packing variations, kit options and bag suppliers. I even have a shopping list for kit that I don’t have yet, food options and a few ideas for places to go!
It must be the enforced lockdown bringing on the urge to travel and explore and it’s definitely the extra time that has given the opportunity to research but I’m determined to take at least one short trip before the end of the Summer.
I’m one of those people that’s constantly on the search for the perfect overshoes and gloves and have gone through a good few versions of both over the last few years. Velotoze are the latest trial.
I’ve seen ads for them but only decided to make the jump having seen them on special offer on a local bike shop’s Facebook page for €12 and figured that was a price worth trying them out. That was last year sometime and I only got around to trying them out yesterday!
As you can see they come in a wide variety of colours from boring black all the way to vibrant pink. I opted for fluro yellow as I figured I’d most likely be wearing them on duller days and spinning yellow blobs are more eye catching for drivers than dark ones….and pink really isn’t my colour!
They are made from a thin latex/rubber material that is best described as Marigold washing up gloves! The idea is that they form a very tight fitting, non-bulky, aero and most importantly, waterproof barrier over your shoes and socks and keep your feet perfectly dry.
They come in three styles: long, short and toe cover only. I can see the benefit of the toe covers for splash protection but the short version seem like a waste of time. I went for the long version as I figured they would be of most use to me.
As the covers are made in a single piece with no zips getting them on and off can be a bit of a faff. So much so that they have instructions on the packet and also have an instructional video.
This was one of the issues I had with them. I wouldn’t want to be in a hurry to leave the house and I definitely wouldn’t want to put them on at the side of the road. Getting them off again was similarly awkward.
I fitted the cuffs of mine under my tights and on the skin. This is the recommended way as they seal pretty effectively with the skin to prevent water running down the leg into your socks and shoes. I’m not a shaver so I did notice them for a lot of the ride as they were pulling on my leg hairs a number of times. Probably best for shaved legs.
I would have a concern about durability over the long term. They required a lot of stretching to go over my shoes. The material is reasonably robust but I would be worried if I had ratchet or bolo type fasteners on my shoes and that they would tear through.
Care is needed to get them fitted around the heel and cleat to make sure they won’t be walked on or catch in the pedal while clipping in. I ended up with an ugly loose piece at the tip of my toe as I didn’t want then close to the front of my cleats. More practice putting them on may get rid of that. My other concern would be clipping out on gravelly or rough surfaces and puncturing the underside of the covers. Having used them only once I have a rub on one heal that could become a tear but more use will be needed to see how that develops.
The main reason for buying these was to keep my feet dry on wet days. They worked very well yesterday at keeping spray from penetrating my shoes. After heavy rain there were quite a few unavoidable puddles and sections of water running across the road but they shed the water quickly and effectively while stopping ingress completely.
However, after only two hours on the bike and in temperatures of 5-7°C my feet were very damp from sweat. They’re waterproof from both directions and don’t allow any breathing at all. I’d only really use them now if it was going to be a very wet and cold day where soaked feet were otherwise guaranteed. Warm and damp is always preferable to cold and wet.
Overall, they were fine but I don’t think I’ll use them much, won’t rush to replace them when they wear out and would hesitate to recommend to a friend if asked.
Value: 6/10 as I don’t think they will last as long as regular overshoes.
Durability: 4/10 although I’ve only worn them once so it’s perceived durability.
Effectiveness: 7/10 due to the great waterproofing but lack of breathability leading to sweaty feet.
Overall: 5/10 when the difficulty of fitting and removing is also taken into account.
I’m not anywhere near as bad as the gentleman in the photo above but I definitely don’t like throwing stuff away – you never know when it might come in handy!
When it comes to cycling gear though I’m definitely worse. I have loads of jackets I’ve bought in an attempt to balance breathability and water resistance but on a budget. I finally realised this wasn’t possible and bought an excellent convertible Castelli Perfetto.
It combines perfectly with a gillet or shell when wind or rain is that bit extreme and unavoidable. I still have those cheaper jackets though!
Today I’ve made a start and thrown out my very first pair of bib shorts that I bought about 6 years ago! They are a basic Assos gel bib short that cost approx £25 in a local bike shop and never really fitted me comfortably. They were better than the cheap, cheap shorts I started with but were replaced by better fitting DHB Aeron shorts within the year.
Despite wearing them only twice in a wardrobe emergency in the last 5 years I’ve never thrown them out, until today!